Analytic Philosophy: Paradox of Poop

This is perhaps an first analysis on “Paradox of Poop” in history.
The CGI image shows a prohibition sentence “NO SHIT HERE!” written with poop. If we take the sentence propositionally, the poop on the floor itself denies the sentence.

In this regard, the image shows a kind of paradox of self-reference.
The image can also be interpreted as similar paradox, such as self-counterexamplifying paradox (“There is no word in this page”), or pragmatic paradox (“You can’t hear this, right?”)
To analyze the paradox, I apply a soft version of Donald Davidson’s “principle of charity” on the case, to interpret the sentence as rational act.

And there are some theories where are meaning of language, such as proposition, truth condition, intention, social constitution. But I assume here that meaning exists in speaker’s intention, or social constitution, not proposition.

Along with the assumptions, I can provide a hypothetical story behind the image: “A man is living in a dormitory. Everyday, He found someone’s poop on the floor of his room. He finally pissed off and write prohibition sign on the floor ‘NO SHIT HERE!’, with his poop.”

Off course, his action is not socially proper. But his speech act is understandable and his intention may be rational for his purpose.

Next up, I will analyze the paradox using the hypothetical story.


Semantics of Prohibition:

If we take prohibition propositionally, it seems to be general and be applied to everyone.
But as the hypothetical story above explains, prohibition sentence can omit speaker itself as the scope.

For example, prohibition sign “No-go area” means that anyone can’t enter the area except the owner of sign and parsons involved.
So, prohibition can be a form of claim of property right.

If prohibition omits speaker itself for the scape, the paradox can be resolve because it can avoid self-referencing, like Bertrand Russell did in his type theory. Russel omitted possibility of reference against the same type in set theory, so he can avoid Russel’s paradox which is a sort of self-referencing paradox.

Also, I think it’s similar with the figure of solipsism by Ludwig Wittgenstein in “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”. He provided wrong metaphor of solipsism by visual field.
It says why the subject of solipsism must not include itself in its world.
And I think vanishing speaker in prohibition’s scope looks like the Wittgenstein’s argument.

Anyway, with the interpretation, the prohibition sign of poop can be understood as claiming right of property, using special omission of speaker itself.


Psychological Paradox of Poop:

There are some psychological reasons why claiming right of property by poop is possible interpretation.
We human sometimes feel exclusive property by excrement or secretion, as dogs do for marking behavior by pee.

For example, I lick my chop sticks and fork in dinner so many times. But I don’t want lick other person’s ones except very close family’s. I feel fork with my saliva is mine, and forks with other persons’ saliva are theirs, even if the chemical component is the same.

Also, I can use toilet right after I use the toilet. But if I enter restroom just after other person used, I feel it is very dirty and I hesitate to use it. I feel the toilet became other person’s property or territory, not mine.

In the light of the view, the paradox of poop implicitly shows a human’s psychological tendency: claiming exclusive property by excrement.


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